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now that the last unstaked earth we can claim
is the triangle wedged beneath fore and hind wheels
I burn with hunger for cremation knowing you will feed my embers
to the chassis at night and gather me close in the oil-choked morning
and not be imprisoned for littering and I will do the same for you.

now that the latrine lines uncoil for kilometers you could die
of dehydration waiting to piss we thank all the gods we’re not healthy enough
to shit—laying waste to the earth being a capital offense second only
to murder because bodies can be repurposed I’d sooner be arrested interring stillborns
than voiding myself the black market escort bio that felled you in lust your parents were jailers
in the latrine lines you lecture me often on the penance of middle-class digestive systems.

now that I’ve turned enough tricks to vacate my mother’s trishaw
and bordello my own we park side by side to make love horizontally
like couples on the holoscreens from Golden Age Bollywood and your trishaw
sits higher on reinforced tires and each monoxide morning bruises bleach
your vertebrae and it’s not a wedding brand but I’ll take what I can get.

now that the mainlanders have discovered I can paint you drive them
to me and we dogfight in Sanskrit over your commission while I unroll smuggled skin
onto the windscreen and craft the scene in recycled blood and stale diesel—
the beetling hive of metal cocooned humans how they swoon these tourist fools
how you simper and kowtow and promise violence if I cheat you out of your cut
because I cheat you often knowing you’re stockpiling fuel to drive the oversea bridge
where my father died trying died flaming to know how it would feel to live inside a square.

now that you’ve been to the white van clinic there’s no punishable risk in parking together
so nightly we wander the rust-dark aisles minefield on minefield of holoshields like koi bowls
in old cartoons or paper lanterns or pregnant moons the fistfights the sex the mundanities still left
to us you lick hydrocarbons from my shaved neck my daredevil beloved
I swear then and there to save your spot in the latrine line tomorrow morning.

Lalini Shanela Ranaraja is a multigenre creative from Kandy, Sri Lanka, currently inhabiting a liminal Midwestern locale known as the Quad Cities. She has written about defiant women, mothertongues, and luminous worlds for Entropy, Off Assignment, Sky Island Journal, Uncanny Magazine, and others. Find her at
Current Issue
27 Mar 2023

close calls when / I’m with Thee / dressed to the nines
they took to their heels but the bird was faster.
In this episode of Critical Friends, the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Reviews Editors Aisha Subramanian and Dan Hartland talk to novelist, reviewer, and Strange Horizons’ Co-ordinating Editor, Gautam Bhatia, about how reviewing and criticism of all kinds align—and do not—with fiction-writing and the genre more widely.
If the future is here, but unevenly distributed, then so is the past.
He claims that Redlow used to be a swamp and he has now brought them into the future before the future. Yes he said that.
My previous Short Fiction Treasures column was all about science fiction, so it’s only fair that the theme this time around is fantasy.
I’ve come to think of trans-inclusive worldbuilding as an activist project in itself, or at least analogous to the work of activists. When we imagine other worlds, we have to observe what rules we are creating to govern the characters, institutions, and internal logic in our stories. This means looking at gender from the top down, as a regulatory system, and from the bottom up, at the people on the margins whose bodies and lives stand in some kind of inherent opposition to the system itself.
Wednesday: And Lately, The Sun edited by Calyx Create Group 
Friday: August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White 
Issue 20 Mar 2023
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Issue 13 Feb 2023
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Issue 30 Jan 2023
By: Catherine Rockwood
By: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Catherine Rockwood
Podcast read by: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Maureen Kincaid Speller
Issue 23 Jan 2023
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